a review by the Crow.
Captain‘s log, Stardate 96745.49: This week, on Star Trek: Discovery, I am given the one thing I’ve been waiting for from day one, almost: an episode starring the Kelpians and the Ba’ul.
Again, I’m a little late with the episode, but I believe enough has been said about my personal issues as of late.
I believe the Azure-Winged Magpie‘s been keeping everyone up to date with all the things going on behind the scenes at The Corvid Review, so let’s not waste any time and warp into Kaminar as we take a closer look at:
The Sound of Thunder
SPOILER LEVELS at MODERATE
I’m aware that almost every place on the internet seems to read the title as The Sounds of Thunder, but I’ve elected to go with the name as stated by Netflix when I watched the episode. And to preface the entire review, let me state the following:
These are the stories that make Star Trek.
That statement applies here, although it applies most strictly until tea time. The Sound of Thunder is by far one of the best episodes of Discovery, and the reason I say so is because it delivers on a promise. The promise being: “to discover new worlds and civilisations” — something Discovery has distinctly lacked aside from our romps in the world of psylocibin fungi. And does the episode ever.
We spend our time with the Kelpians, and despite a sudden stroke of bad writing during tea time (which I believe I will continue to reference, seeing how I’m writing this during my own tea time), the episode serves as a throwback to the 90s era of Star Trek — with markedly better makeup.
I thought — at one point — that the episode was leaning towards an angle which said that the Kelpians and the Ba’ul were one and the same, but was wrong. Looking back on the story after completing the episode, however, I like the dynamic that it establishes.
The stories that The Sound of Thunder involves are never as direct or easy to parse as so many people might like to think, but the episode handles them in much the way a good diplomat would handle such a situation (if there ever was such a person). It’s easy for one to get caught up in the idea of defending Kelpians — given our window into the world is Saru (Doug Jones), but the episode leaves just enough space for us to consider the Ba’ul’s own suffering as well. Although everything about the Ba’ul — their design, their presence; both embodied by Javier Botet (live-action), who is only second to Mr Jones himself in the performance of creatures who are inhuman and Mark Pellington (voice), their architecture, and their ships which seem to include superlative thrusters — is meant to be menacing, the episode yet leaves us with space to think that their establishment of the false “Great Balance” was indeed driven by true fear. Their actions — on the other hand — speak for themselves. The episode makes no secret of how despicable their choices are.
When Saru “evolves” (or more correctly adapts, since death is not a factor, here), he is certainly a force to be reckoned with. We saw shades of this in Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, but this time — with the exception of the one restraint Mr Jones knocked loose during his “capture”, he is unleashed, and yet still quite sane.
I’ll be much kinder to this episode than the previous few of Discovery since it seems to harken back to what Star Trek should be. The matter of the Sphere entity from An Obol for Charon was a little silly, but in the end, something was required to trigger Vahar’ai. Commander Ariam 2.5 (played in this season by Hannah Cheesman) is more in the foreground than she ever has been, and it was welcome. I’d personally prefer to see (and I believe I’ve said this before) an episode following Ariam, Detmer, Rhys, Bryce, and Owosekun around as they deal with everyday matters on the beidge, and I hope one could be on the cards. Ariam is — without question — the one who intrigues me the most.
Siranna (Hannah Spear) returns from The Brightest Star, and I quite liked the scenes involving Dr Culber (Wilson Cruz). I’ll forgive the silliness of his transportation to the mycelial plane because I am glad to have him back — although I hope this doesn’t mean Dr Pollard (Raven Dauda) is replaced. I cannot stress how good the scene involving him and Saru is. They really are the scenes which set up what heights this episode can reach, even though the episode again stresses the importance of another connection aboard the Discovery. Just as important as his scene with Saru is the one he shares with Pollard and Stamets (Anthony Rapp). I hope something more interesting happens with him, but I just hope it doesn’t involve more mushrooms.
Overall, The Sound of Thunder is one of Discovery‘s brightest episodes and is our return to the “quest”. Voq/Tyler (Shazad Latif) grates a little on the senses, especially with his wearing the black badge — which needs to be addressed, and Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is again simply “there”. Pike (Anson Mount) acts like a captain and now we know Spock (Ethan Peck; yet to appear) is due in the next episode. There are some spots of bad writing, exposition, and some bad bad edits, but they can largely be ignored. This episode is certainly worth a watch and comes highly recommended by both of us at The Corvid Review.
Before I leave you, I will grant you a small theory:
We are doing “Future Guy” again. I posit that the Red Angel is someone we know.
By the time I see you again, we’ll have hopefully completed the Star Trek movie franchise. First Contact comes next as we continue our celebratory “month”, and I’ll be warping in to assist Number One as she continues to rip through the movies.
Now: Fredalia Tea. Hot.
— Crow out.
THE CROW: 8/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 10/10
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